A short and pleasant little tour with Howard S. Becker into the world of marihuana.
Becoming a Marihuana UserPublisher: University of Chicago Press
Author: Howard S. Becker
Publication date: 2015-06
Whether you’re 18, 28 or even 78 years old, maybe there's a part of you that has always fancied yourself as a bit of a weed loving, skunk smoking Bob Marley. But even if you don’t fall into this category, Howard S. Becker’s Becoming a Marihuana User is more than a humorous ‘how to’ guide to the ways of pot; it's a “short little tour” into the world of marihuana and how it has become more than just an accessory to make you look badass in front of all your friends.
Becker previously published this as an article in 1953 with little reaction; however, with growing relevance in today’s culture such as the legalisation of the drug for certain medical usage, Becker’s studies developed a significantly larger interest this time around. An additional prelude has been added, where Becker explains the process of his first publication and the change of interest towards his studies through the years. This is interesting in itself to purely see how marihuana has become a larger and perhaps less taboo substance, since the '50s.
A social discovery and an exploration into the key question of whether the effect of drugs must be learnt and recognised for them to be truly experienced, the book explores marihuana use in a way that perhaps no one has done before. The book doesn’t promote or discourage drug use as such, it just explores drug use and how a user becomes a user in the first place.
Becker explains how a ‘novice’ knows the concept of getting high but not what that actually means until it's experienced. It's not until the novice becomes high and can link the drug with sensations of pleasure that continued use begins. That's an interesting argument that in order to truly understand a situation, you must experience it.
The book somehow manages to merge an almost scientific experiment with real life experiences. Between each section/chapter is a quote from a marihuana user that explains their experience and little snippets of their history of getting high. There are a few interesting quotes and a lot of “yeah mans”, but they break up the chapters effectively and allow the scientific nature of the content to feel less dry.
The book is a funny, fairly thought-provoking little read for a spare half an hour on your morning commute, or something to pass the time in a waiting room. It probably won’t change your life or keep you up at night thinking about it, but it is interesting and an alternative approach to studying the effects and use of marihuana through the past 60 years.